Are You Selling Day-Old Doughnuts?
Every year our degrees “expire” in relevancy and timeliness if we don’t refresh each class with an eye to the future, Ray Schroeder argues.
We all know the tech expectations of new hires have changed rapidly this century. While many of the soft skills of communication, leadership, critical thinking and social sense remain relevant today, a whole host of technological infrastructure changes continue at a rapid rate. The tools, the cloud, the networks and their capabilities that we use are rapidly changing. Leadership decisions are informed far more by data and analysis than instinct and intuition.
This raises the question of whether we are best educating our students for jobs that will be in rapid decline, or no longer exist, when they graduate. How can we predict the future career environment? We can’t, with 100 percent certainty. But we can, and must, carefully and continuously share the trends with our students so they are prepared for the emerging environment. Columbia University, along with UPCEA, has opened a call for papers on the very topic of the future of work and its implications for higher education. I encourage you to submit your thoughts, and I look forward to seeing the results from that work.
One good place to start looking now is the 2018 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report. This 147-page report from WEF is full of well-researched data, trends and predictions. It is deeply valuable for planning for the future. For example, some of the key tech influences it sees:
Four specific technological advances — ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology — are set to dominate the 2018-2022 period as drivers positively affecting business growth. They are flanked by a range of socio-economic trends driving business opportunities in tandem with the spread of new technologies, such as national economic growth trajectories; expansion of education and the middle classes, in particular in developing economies; and the move towards a greener global economy through advances in new energy technologies.
The top trending skills the report suggests in the next two years will be:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Creativity, originality and initiative
- Technology design and programming
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Complex problem solving
- Leadership and social influence
- Emotional intelligence
- Reasoning, problem solving and ideation
- Systems analysis and evaluation
Are we integrating these skills into our learning outcomes map? Have we engaged professionals and leaders in the field to regularly advise us on the local trends and needs they see? To the extent we fail to educate ourselves in these areas and adjust our curricula, we are cheating our students — all of our students, undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing — of perhaps the most valuable assets they expect us to provide: currency and relevancy.
The first step is that we, ourselves, must be informed. A second challenge we face is to assure that our students are asking the right questions and getting reliable information about their futures. One tool I found is a recent podcast by Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, best-selling author and co-founder of string field theory. His guest is Tracey Wilen, a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work and careers. Wilen is a former visiting scholar at Stanford University who has held leadership positions at Apple, HP and Cisco Systems and is a prolific writer and speaker on careers of the future. In this half-hour program, they address jobs of the future for college students, including midcareer students.
This could be an excellent stimulus for a discussion in an introductory class, or a faculty development meeting, or an open forum for students online or on campus.
I recommend that the WEF report be placed on the computer of every dean, department chair and student adviser. And I recommend that that we all listen to the podcast by Kaku and Wilen to see if this might be worth sharing with our students to stimulate thought and discussion, as well as keep an eye on the work by UPCEA and Columbia University. These actions are foundational to beginning to teach to the future. Your students will thank you in the years ahead!
This article was first posted January 23rd in Inside Higher Ed’s Inside Digital Learning.
Ray Schroeder is Professor Emeritus, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Senior Fellow, and Founding Director of the National Council for Online Education at UPCEA. Each year, Ray publishes and presents nationally on emerging topics in online and technology-enhanced learning. Ray’s social media publications daily reach more than 12,000 professionals. He is the inaugural recipient of the A. Frank Mayadas Online Leadership Award, recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame Award, and the American Journal of Distance Education/University of Wisconsin Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award 2016.
Whether you need benchmarking studies, or market research for a new program, UPCEA Consulting is the right choice.
We know you. We know the challenges you face and we have the solutions you need. We speak your language and have been serving leaders like you for more than 100 years. UPCEA consultants are current or former continuing and online higher education professionals who are experts in the industry—put our expertise to work for you.
The National Council for Online Education is dedicated to advancing quality online learning at the institutional level. The National Council is uniquely focused on excellence at the highest levels – leadership, administration, strategy – applying a macro lens to the online teaching and learning enterprise. Its engaged members include the stewards of online learning at most of the leading universities in the nation.
The National Council for Online Education offers a variety of custom research options through a variable pricing model.
Other UPCEA Updates + Blogs
My parents immigrated from China in the 1950s and 60s. They strongly encouraged my brothers and I to study engineering, computers, medicine or mathematics. Nothing else mattered. I chose math and my brothers chose computer science and electrical engineering. I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in statistics…Read More
Many institutional leaders recognize the need for a quality assurance program, yet faculty and staff buy-in to those plans can be elusive. Samford University recently took a collaborative approach to organizational change in its online and professional studies programs, ultimately creating an appetite for quality assurance by increasing awareness, generating buy-in, and empowering faculty through…Read More
Usually one trend impacts another. If self-driving cars are taking over, then most likely artificial intelligence, data mining, radar technology, and lithium battery development are trending positively. Much of my research this past year focused on Generation Z or iGen (those approximately 16 to 22 years of age) and Millennials. These individuals, along with aging…Read More
It’s that time again. Courses are showing up in dashboard, and faculty are beginning to think about what changes they plan to make in their course design. As we near the start of the semester I’d offer these three tips for instructors who look to clean up and streamline their courses. Consider What’s Essential – Fewer Resources A…Read More
In a growth market, such as online education in the late 1990s and start of millennium, producing products and services is relatively easy or carries with it less risk, as growing market share is the goal rather than stealing share from competitors. Having good intelligence and market research was a luxury back then…to move more…Read More
UPCEA Congratulates Members Recognized in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
10 of top 11 ranked institutions are members of UPCEA WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 17, 2019) — UPCEA, the association for college and university leaders in professional, continuing, and online education, is pleased to congratulate the many UPCEA members recognized in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings. U.S. News rankings include…Read More